Mark Ramp of Eagle River started the Eagle River Triathlon in 1993 and successfully increased the size of the event before passing the torch in 2002.
“The first year I was hoping for 100 participants and we had 225
people sign up by the start of the race. I had no permits or anything.
I had worked out a deal for the lifeguards at the pool and the pool manager to come in and help me for what I thought was going to be a couple of hours at the pool that ended up being half the day. The following year, we were forced to get insurance and permits,” said Ramp.
Despite growing pains, Ramp continued to add on to the event. After the first year, he realized everyone was waiting around for the results for such a long time so he wanted to do something to entertain everyone. Year two, he hired a clown to entertain the kids and a musician to entertain the adults until he could get the results posted.
“I went to a race in California and they had a kid race which gave me the idea of Eagle River Tri hosting one, too,” Ramp said. Again, he was hoping for 50 kids in two different age groups and he ended up having about 100.
The last two years he ran the event, Ramp had 500 adults and 250 kids doing the race. “The first year, I wanted to raise $1,500 just to put the race on, so I didn’t charge very much - $15 for adults. By the time the kids race, started I charged the adults $20 and the kids $5. In 2003, I was charging the adults $30 and the kids $10.”
When is the last time anyone saw a triathlon registration that low?
Eagle River Tri’s budget was then up to about $19,000 and paid for the pool rental, school parking lot rental, insurance, state permit, city permit, and police traffic assistance. At the same time, Eagle River Tri was trying to raise $1,000 to donate to the youth swim team, youth hockey team, and a Boy Scout troop. On top of that, Ramp continued to buy pizza, T-shirts, awards and a few new signs each year.
“It became a second full-time job and I was trying to compete in races myself,” said Ramp. Ramp gave ten years to the Eagle River Triathlon and decided that was enough.
“My wife made me a quilt with the 10 years of T-shirts, so I have a quilt with every T-shirt for those 10 years,” Ramp summed it up.
Time for a hiatus, but not for long.
Ed Sniffen picked up the Eagle River Tri in 2004. According to Sniffen, “The race was not held in 2003, the year after Mark decided to pursue other adventures.” In 2004, Eagle River Triathlon had a fairly low turnout because it had not been held the year prior.
“I think people thought it was done since it went dark in 2003; 2004 was a tough year,” said Sniffen. Then in 2005, the event nearly sold out, with about 450 participants. In 2006, the event sold out again but this time in about a month with 550 participants registering for the event.
At the same time, Ed Sniffen was also President of the Arctic Bicycle Club; working (as a volunteer) for both events were a bit more then he realized.
In 2006, Missy (Anderson) Roberts met with Sniffen about taking over the event. Although Roberts had competed in the event for several years, she spent most of the 2006 event watching Ed run the show. “It’s always been one of Alaska’s favorite triathlons,” said Roberts. “It’s super laid back, yet enlists a talented and strong group of elite athletes. At the same time, the event is for all abilities and draws a large number of new triathletes, families and, of course, a great group of kids for the kid’s event.”
“The 2006 Eagle River Tri was a fun event for me. I’m not sure how I did it, but I helped run the event and then I competed in the event,” said Roberts. “I’ve never been able to do both since, but I was able to direct the event and participate at the same time.”
Despite directing and racing in the 2006 event, it was also the only time Roberts has ever podiumed in a triathlon. “The ironic thing about that is, I actually input my own swim time incorrectly into the excel spreadsheet so it wasn’t until a week later that I realized I had qualified in the Top 3,” said Roberts.
Shareen Crosby joined Roberts as race co-director in 2007. Crosby was seven months pregnant while co-directing both the 2007 and 2008 events.
Roberts and Crosby manually timed the race one last year in 2007.
In 2008, the race committee increased the registration fees just enough to use chip timing and hired Lisa Keller with Up & Running.
Up & Running timed the event for three years. In 2011, Skinny Raven Timing was brought in to time the event.
In 2012, Kristin (Wilkinson) Folmar joined Anderson and Crosby as race co-director. “Missy & I enjoyed operations and logistics, but Kristin brought a whole new level to the event’s sponsorships, volunteers and racer swag. Plus, we enjoyed working together, so we had a great time to boot.”
Shareen Crosby left the race co-director team in 2016 to pursue full-time work, but continues to volunteer for the event.
The event continues to be a fan and participant favorite amongst the annual Alaskan triathlons. The success of the event has been aided by loyal sponsors, some that have been supporting the event for 12+ years; including, Healthwise Care Center and Physical Therapy, Skinny Raven Sports, Chain Reaction Cycles, and Alaska Internal Medicine. In addition to these long-time sponsors there are dozens of other local businesses who have and continue to support the Eagle River Triathlon.